Scallopini – Milanese – Piccata

Super quick dinner that everyone will love; if they don’t you are probably reading / following the wrong blog. Or maybe should rethink who you eat dinner with – OK I know you can’t probably stop feeding your kids but you can definitely make them take the “no thank you” bite and they might just like it enough to keep going.
IMG_3737.JPGYou might be thinking I am confused today having 3 different “meals” listed in the title. Well it is quite possible. Last night was our annual Christmas party and I am literally writing this while setting up for it and directing 3 of my on hand “staff” aka as my daughter, one of her friends and my sister-in-law. So if this blog is a little frazzled you’ll know why.  I am SUPER multi-tasking right this minute.

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Yes that is my glass of wine – wink wink

OK so back to why I listed the 3 above and they actually are in order of how you can make a quick dinner that again you will love. They all start with thin sliced meat. Usually Chicken but I had Turkey on hand and usually always do in my freezer so that is what I used. So thin sliced meat lightly breaded and fried in a little oil in the pan. This is the definition of Scallopini. To make it a Milanese you need to make a sauce by deg-lazing the pan with white wine and a little lemon juice and then finish it off with a tab of butter. Then to make it a Piccata you add a small jar of capers. Voila dinner 3 ways!
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Turkey, Chicken or Veal cutlets – buy them or slice your own
salt & pepper
flour
2 tablespoon Olive or vegetable oil
¼ cup white wine
3 cloves garlic
½ cup chicken broth
2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 jar capers
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 lemon sliced

Salt and pepper both sides of the cutlets, dredge lightly in flour. Shake off the excess.
IMG_3726IMG_3727Swirl some oil in your saute pan, place them in the pan, not touching and leave them alone until they release on their own. Should be about 3-5 minutes. Flip, cover and cook another 2-3 minutes. Remove them from the pan and set aside. If there is excess fat in the pan, pour it off.  
IMG_3729IMG_3730Deg-laze the pan with white wine and add the minced garlic; cook the garlic just till it starts to get brown and cook till the liquid is about gone. Don’t walk away from the stove about 2 minutes. Add the broth, lemon juice and capers.
IMG_3731IMG_3732IMG_3733Return the cutlets to the pan and let the juice reheat the meat up. Transfer to a warm plate.
IMG_3734IMG_3735For the sauce add the butter and sliced lemons, once the butter melts pour the sauce over the cutlets. If you want to be fancy and have fresh parsley it looks really nice chopped sprinkled on top.

Shrimp, Sausage and Gnocchi weeknight dinner

What a beautiful weekend at the lake the weather was perfect; the water was cold but refreshing! We came back pretty late on Sunday and there was no time and actually not a lot of money; I’m sure some of you know when you come back from vacation no matter how long it was that money can be a little tight. I picked up a few basics just milk, bread and lunch meat for the guys and that was it for the week. Dinners for the week will have to be whatever I had on hand. Which in taking a quick inventory of my fridge, freezer and pantry; it didn’t look too bad.

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Tuesday night was just going to be me and the hubby; I opened the freezer and saw a half bag of shrimp, a handful of gnocchi, half package of Italian sausage and some broccoli. I opened the fridge and there was some leftover homemade chicken stock and yes even in my fridge a half a bottle of leftover white wine – it can happen! I figured a few fresh ingredients this might not be too bad. I had a couple of small shallots and a small onion from the garden and of course my all-time favorite garlic. Sounded like dinner to me.

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I know from a few cooking class students that without a recipe just by opening the fridge and freezer meals tend not to present themselves. I would like nothing else than to show people that with a few pantry/fridge staples. A homemade meal is just a few chops and a couple of stirs away.

Here is how I made a yummy meal from what I had on hand

2 small shallots diced

2 cloves minced garlic

1 small onion diced

2 tbs Olive oil

1 tbs Butter

Gnocchi

Sausage – casing removed and chopped

Shrimp – cleaned and deveined

broccoli

Fresh Sage chopped

White wine

Chicken stock

Sriracha – hot sauce opt.

Kosher salt

Fresh cracked black pepper

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Heat olive oil and butter in a saute pan over medium low heat. Add chopped shallots, onions and garlic till softened. Add sausage cook until browned. De-glaze pan with white wine. Let it reduce down; before it all evaporates add the chicken stock and the gnocchi; let it boil down till it makes a nice thick sauce in the last 10 minutes add the shrimp and broccoli; you don’t want to overcook either of them. The gnocchi actually helped thicken the sauce; which was an added bonus. Add some fresh chopped herbs of your choice and salt and pepper to taste; I also added some hot sauce to liven up the flavor a little.

Italian Night – Tagliatelle Pasta and Ragu Bolognese

I had wanted to make a few Italian recipes that we had made in our Tuscan cooking class since coming back home a couple of weeks ago. Everything just came together this for past Friday night’s dinner.  We were trying to get together with some of our local friends, our VT friends contacted me to come and stay the night and the final piece de resistance was the red wine I sent home from Italy arrived Friday morning oh and I had the day off.  Italian night was just meant to be!

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I love my new pasta dryer!

I made my shopping list out in the morning, I had planned on making it a little easier on me since I was cooking for 9+ people and I don’t have staff to help me with prep or clean up per say; my son and friends helped with clean up. I was going with Bruschetta, homemade; handmade pasta with a Bolognese sauce and tiramisu for dessert.  I know that was not going to be a truly “authentic” Tuscan meal but I live in NH and I am not Italian nor can I get the same ingredients locally, trust me I tried, I thought I would make it as close as possible. I had to find a substitute for Italian 00 flour; 1 part pastry flour to 3 parts AP flour was the answer.

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Homemade Tagliatelle Pasta – Flat cut pasta

1 cup pastry flour

3 cups all-purpose flour

4-5 large eggs

extra virgin olive oil

Combine flours in a bowl, on a clean work surface make a pile of the flour; make a well in the middle large enough for the eggs but make sure the edges are big enough to hold in the eggs. With a fork; start to scramble the eggs being careful not to break the sides of the flour ring. Once scrambled you can start to incorporate a little flour at a time; again being careful not to let the eggs escape. This process can take just a couple of minutes. Once you are able to use your hands; get in there and make your dough ball, scrape up the bits on your work area and re-flour lightly so you have a place to knead the dough. Before you start put a small amount of evoo on both sides of your dough ball; if the dough starts getting too yellow add a little more flour. Knead until the dough is soft and pliable but not sticky. Cut into 2 or 4 equal parts and work with 1 at a time.

Roll the dough on a clean lightly floured surface, this will probably take you the longest part of the process, you need to get the dough very thin and into a rectangle of sorts. Once thin enough fold into thirds or even fourths; depending on how long your dough is. Cut off the uneven ends and then decide what kind (size) pasta you want for dinner. I tried to make mine the same width as my pinkie. slice folded pasta and unfold once cut and either hang or lay out on a lightly floured surface till ready to cook.

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Ragu Bolognese

5 tbs extra virgin olive oil

3 tbs butter

1-2 carrots finely diced

1 onion finely diced

1 stalk celery finely diced

1-2 garlic pressed

1 lb ground veal or pork

1 lb ground beef

¼ lb pancetta or slab bacon

28 oz. can San Marzano tomato – crushed

1 cup milk

1 cup of red or white wine – I use what I have left over – if there is such a thing!

Kosher salt, freshly crack black pepper

Parmigiano-Reggiano grated

In a 6-8 quart heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter till melted. Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic and sweat over medium heat until the vegetables are translucent and soft but not browned. Add all the meat and combine with the vegetables on high heat stir continuously till the meat is browned. Add the tomatoes, milk and wine and simmer over medium-low heat for 1-2 hours. Season with salt and pepper; to taste; and remove from the heat.

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Cook pasta in cold salted water until al dente and the pasta has risen to the top. Add cooked pasta to warmed Bolognese sauce toss till all pasta is coated and serve. Sorry I don’t have a picture of the final dish, we ate it immediately as it should be

Mangia Mangia!

Harvest Roasted Chicken – A must try

This dish is a must try!  I can honestly say those words and truly mean it. My daughter found this recipe and made it for dinner a few years back. Talk about a tough audience; my guys are extremely vocal when it comes to food and I am not shy about voicing my opinions either. Olives are not exactly eaten in abundance in my home to say the least. Cooking grapes we were also not sure we were going to be on board with that concept either.

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Since we have all been asked to try things out of our comfort zone; especially over the last few years; we were going in with an open mind. Or at least I was, again my guys what can I say, won’t go down without a fight. My kitchen is most definitely the heart of my home, we all hang out on the island which had two levels, the bar height is where we eat and the counter top height is our prep area. When you are making something someone is a little on the fence about, they tend to watch very closely what you are doing.

My daughter rose to the challenge and hit it out the park. Dinner was just plain delicious, had she not made this for us, I am positive I would not have had the courage to make it. Since then I have not only made it a few times for my guys and even for company. I have taught this dish in one of my classes that I hold in my home.

The combination of the olives, grapes, shallots with the white wine and chicken stock plus the last sprinkling of fresh rosemary just melds beautifully in your mouth. I strongly suggest making this dish; it comes together quite easily; especially if you purchase the chicken already cut up in pieces, with minimal ingredients and you could have it on the table in just about 45 minutes.

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Preheat oven to 450’ with the rack in the middle of your oven

3-4 lbs chicken cut up – you can also use parts – thighs, drumsticks and/or breasts – bone in and skin on

Kosher Salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

1 Tbs olive oil

1 cup seedless red grapes

1 cup or jar pitted Kalamata olives

2-3 shallots thinly sliced

1 cup dry white wine

½ cup chicken broth

1 Tbs finely chopped rosemary

Pat chicken pieces dry, season well with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet (cast iron if you have it) over medium-high heat until it shimmers

Working in batches, brown chicken, skin side down first and turning them over once, about 5-7 minutes per batch

Don’t move chicken until it releases itself and is nicely browned

Return the pieces to the pan, skin side up, and surround the pieces with grapes, olives and shallots.

Roast chicken in the oven until It has cooked through and the juices run clear, about 20-25 minutes

Transfer the chicken, grapes and olives to a platter, then add wine and chicken broth to the pan juices in the skillet

Bring liquid to a boil, scraping up any brown bits, until it has reduced by half, 3-5 minutes

Pour over chicken and garnish with rosemary

Recipe adapted from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook 2012

Chicken White Wine, Tarragon and Cream – slow cooker

My mother-in-law mentioned the other day that she was looking for some crock-pot recipes, I noticed a slow cooker magazine at my local grocery store and I figured I would check it out and then give it to her. While looking at it I started marking pages; I can’t tell you how many times I see a recipe that looks awesome and make a note to try it later and never find it again. After marking like 7 pages I quickly came to the conclusion; I am going to have to buy her her own copy.

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Like most I don’t always have a ton of time in the morning so I planned on prepping both my dinner for the night and the crock-pot for the next day. If I have several dishes in mind I will always cut enough onions, peppers, garlic and potatoes and carrots or whatever I am going to use in multiple dishes all at the same time and just set aside per dish.  You already have the cutting board and knife out just keep going; you’ll be happy you did.

Though sometimes it doesn’t always work out quite like you planned; both dishes I was making asked for some dry white wine. I opened a bottle made the first dish, poured myself a glass, my husband walking by decided he wanted a glass, by the time I got around to making the meal for the slow cooker, yup I was out of wine and had to open another bottle. It was worth it, the chicken from the crock-pot was amazing. We didn’t save the leftover carrots and mushrooms but we did have a couple of chicken breast (they were large ones) they were so flavorful and moist, so much so my husband sent me a text on his lunch telling me how amazing his sandwich was. He just asked me what I was blogging about and told me to tell you that the chicken has a great flavor and he really likes it. He is so helpful wink wink.

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Chicken with White Wine, Tarragon and Cream (slow cooker revolution)

Serves 6 – cook on low 4-6 hours

4-6 bone-in, skin-on split chicken breasts, trimmed salt and peppered

¼ cup olive oil

16 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and halved if small or quartered if large

2 onions minced

½ tsp dried minced thyme

4-6 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup flour

¾ cup dry white wine – I used chardonnay

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 pound carrots peeled, halved length wise and sliced about ½ inch thick

2 tbs soy sauce

2 bay leaves

½ cup heavy cream

¼ cup minced fresh tarragon – (note) I used less because I am not a fan of black licorice but I would use it again in this dish

  • Pat chicken dry, season with salt and pepper. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken skin side down, do not crowd the pan. Repeat with remaining chicken. Set aside and let cool. Remove and discard the skin.
  • Add remaining oil, mushrooms, onions, thyme and some salt to the pan. Cover and cook till softened, about 10 minutes. Uncover continue to cook until the mushrooms are dry and browned about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in garlic and cook about 30 seconds, stir in flour and cook for about a minute. Slowly whisk in the wine, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps. Transfer to slow cooker.
  • Stir in broth, carrots, soy sauce and bay leaves into the slow cooker. Place browned chicken along with the juices into the slow cooker.  Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4-6 hours on low. Any longer and you risk drying out the chicken
  • Transfer chicken and vegetables to a serving platter and tent loosely with foil. Let braising liquid settle for about 5 minutes; remove any excess fat from the surface. Discard bay leaves. Stir in cream and tarragon and season with salt and pepper to taste. Reserving 1-2 cups of sauce to serve with chicken pour the remaining over the chicken and veggies.

Pan Seared Scallops

If you like Scallops and have only ever had them battered and fried; you are missing out on something pretty special and extremely simple to make.  Sea Scallops need very little attention before you can enjoy them.  Make sure to remove the small side muscle from each scallop, rinse with cold water and thoroughly pat dry.

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Get out your favorite 12 to 14-inch sauté pan heat to about high to medium high and add a small amount of olive oil, once the oil start to shimmer and just before smoking.  Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper each scallop and place them gently into the pan; careful not to let them touch each other.  Sear the scallops for a 1 ½ to 2 minutes per side.  They should have about a ¼ inch golden brown crust on each side.  Take special care not to overcook them; they will become rubbery.  The center should be translucent. 

Transfer them to a plate and enjoy!  OR I personally enjoy making a simple sauce to serve over them.  A little white wine, some fresh crushed garlic and to finish it off a tablespoon or two of butter and life is good!

While the heat is still on add some white wine, with a wooden spoon scrape up all the yummy leftover bits. Cook down the wine for like 3-5 minutes, turn off the heat and add a pat or two of butter.  Once melted you can add the scallops back to the pan to re-heat a little or just pour the love over them and enjoy.

Searing is a very important part of making a wonderful flavorful caramelization to most meat.  It is all about building the depth of flavors.  Most people want to move, flip and lift whatever it is they are searing.  Please refrain from touching it for 1-2 minutes for scallops, 3-5 minutes for pork and beef – time is relative to your personal stove; only you know how hot it gets, how quickly it heats up.  I sear Steak, Chicken, Pork and fish fairly often and finish it off in the oven.

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Make sure your using a pan that can go into a hot oven, make sure you pre-heat your oven.  Size matters; that is the thickness of the meat you are searing and finishing off in the oven.  Times will vary so if you have an instant meat thermometer; that will help you until you get a feel for how long things will take to your doneness.

In one of my cooking classes we were searing chicken.  I had 2 saute pans and 2 students watching them.  I literally had to set the timer on my stove to help them with the timing.  Another good tip is to wait for the meat to release itself; that is another way to know when you should flip to the other side. If you have to fight to remove what you are searing from the pan, it is not done building flavors.

I work with one of the students from this class.  She came up to me last week and told me she waited for the chicken to release before turning and her whole family loved the crust and additional flavor that it added to her dish.  She mentioned it was pretty painful for her to not flip but I was in her head saying let it be; leave it alone…I love hearing these types of stories.

Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry

Have you ever tried to re-create a dish you had while eating out?  I have definitely tried; some were successful some not so much.   I do make a mean Crab Rangoon and I love making Pan Fried Chicken Dumplings.  There is a recipe from my favorite local restaurant that I order every time we go that eludes me; Lemongrass Chicken with a Caramel Sauce served over Jasmine rice with seared greens.  I LOVE the taste and presentation of this dish!  I do wonder though if I were able to re-create it at home would the love fade.  I don’t think I am willing to risk it; I will save this special dish for when we have date night.

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This weekend I will be testing a few Asian Fusion recipes that I hope to be able to have a class on soon.  I have the ingredients to make Pad Thai and a Spring Roll that sounded delicious with a Thai Chili sauce that I am super excited to see how they come out.

My son just came back from visiting his sister in Japan and asked me to experiment with different Ramon dishes.  My daughter went to Vietnam over her Christmas New Year’s holiday and fell in love with their street food.  Next up on my testing list is Banh Mi which is a Vietnamese Sandwich; she literally tried every different vender she came upon.  She also mentioned that I really need to learn how to make Pho which is pronounced Fa.  They are definitely are on my foodie radar.

Last night we had some friends over and I made a Beef and Broccoli dish served over Jasmine rice.  A couple of weeks ago I tested a Portuguese Paella on a few friends. At least I had made the Beef and Broccoli one other time for my guys and they both really liked it.  The Paella was a true test as I have never made before.  I always have a backup plan if things don’t go the way I plan.  We have like 5 or 6 pizza places in our small town; just a phone call away.

This comes together pretty quickly; the rice will take the longest.  Unless you use boil-in-bag rice; I did not I just made some jasmine rice, because it is my favorite.

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Serves 4 – I doubled this last night to serve my friends

Note: pre-measure your ingredients ahead of time and place them by the stove, it will keep things moving along without the threat of burning and over cooking your ingredients.

2 Tablespoons dry white wine or dry sherry, divided

2 Tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce, divided

1 teaspoon sugar

1 pound boneless sirloin steak, cut diagonally across the grain into thin slices

½ Cup lower-sodium beef broth

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce

1 teaspoon Sriracha

2 Tablespoon canola oil, divided

1 Tablespoon bottled ground fresh ginger

2 teaspoons minced garlic

4 cups trimmed up broccoli

¼ cup water

1/3 cup sliced green onions

Cook rice according to directions

Combine 1 Tablespoon wine, 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, sugar and beef.  Stir together 1 Tablespoon wine, 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, broth, cornstarch, hoisin and sriracha. Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat; add beef mixture; sauté 3 minutes or until browned.  Remove beef from the pan.  Add ginger and garlic; cook 30 seconds stirring constantly. Add broccoli and water; cook 1 minute.  Add onions cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add broth and beef mixture; cook 2 minutes or until beef is thoroughly heated and sauce is slightly thick.  Serve over rice.